WORDS FOR APRIL

This month, I had to let go of many beloved students, which is a fact of my life but always a bittersweet experience. It’s done. I’ve said my goodbyes to thirty or more brilliant, funny and endearing people.

The relationships I make through my work enrich me in ways that are incalculable. I feel that I’m a better person because I carry inside me something of each of these students who, by the miraculous workings of the Universe, has passed through one of my classrooms.

Thus, the brief gem from Seamus Heaney, below.

I also discovered the beautiful autism of Daniel Tammet, who is a mathematical and linguistic savant and, I think, a gentle human being who will help enlighten is all.

I. ABOUT LIFE

A) “Since when,” he asked,
“Are the first line and last line of any poem
Where the poem begins and ends?”
Seamus Heaney

* * * *

B)  ABOUT AUTISM, LANGUAGE AND HOPE

A poem published by the National Autism Association, introduced with the following message:

“A mother writes, “My 10 year old son with Aspergers was asked to write a poem for school titled ‘I Am’ he was given the first 2 words in every sentence. This is what he wrote…”

I am odd, I am new

I wonder if you are too

I hear voices in the air

I see you don’t and that’s not fair

I want to not feel blue

I am odd, I am new

I pretend that you are too

I feel like a boy in outerspace

I touch the stars and feel out of place

I worry what others might think

I cry when people laugh, it makes me shrink

I am odd, I am new

I understand now that so are you

I say I, “Feel like a castaway”

I dream of a day that that’s okay

I try to fit in

I hope that someday I do

I am odd, I am new”

 

John Martin, 1789-1854: "Solitude"
John Martin, 1789-1854: “Solitude”

 

“I hate textbooks. I hate how they shoehorn even the most incongruous words – like ‘cup’ and ‘bookcase,’ or ‘pencil’ and ‘ashtray’ – onto the same page, and then call it ‘vocabulary.’ In a conversation, the language is always fluid, moving, and you have to move with it. You walk and talk and see where the words come from, and where they should go. It was in this way that I learned to count like a Viking.”
Daniel Tammet, Thinking In Numbers: On Life, Love, Meaning, and Math

Pi Landscape
Original artwork by Daniel Tammet

 

“Clouds and buttercups exist in poetry, but they are there only because storms and flowers populate the world too.”
Daniel Tammet, Thinking In Numbers: On Life, Love, Meaning, and Math

II. ENDINGS

C) “October knew, of course, that the action of turning a page, of ending a chapter or of shutting a book, did not end a tale. Having admitted that, he would also avow that happy endings were never difficult to find: “It is simply a matter,” he explained to April, “of finding a sunny place in a garden, where the light is golden and the grass is soft; somewhere to rest, to stop reading, and to be content.”
Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, Vol. 4: Season of Mists

 

III. ABOUT BOOKS

A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called “leaves”) imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time ― proof that humans can work magic.
[Cosmos, Part 11: The Persistence of Memory (1980)]”
Carl Sagan

“Reading is like thinking, like praying, like talking to a friend, like expressing your ideas, like listening to other people’s ideas, like listening to music, like looking at the view, like taking a walk on the beach. ”
–Roberto Bolaño

Roberto Bolano

 

 

 

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